3 must-have skills for software developers

Do you know what skills the best software developers have in common? Hint: Coding isn’t on the list
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IT Careers 2021

Leaders must start reassessing the desired skills they seek in developers. Amid an already tight talent market, 51 percent of developers are considering quitting their jobs or finding a new one in the next 12 months, opening the door to a new way of thinking about the talent landscape.

Research shows that “soft” skills, characterized by personal attributes, are more beneficial and have a longer-lasting impact over time than technical skills. As organizations strive to attract and retain great talent, looking beyond technical expertise solely and evaluating soft skills will allow hiring managers to cast a wider net of applicants who align most closely with an organization’s mission and values.

Curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving are among the top skills that make today’s most talented developers. Those who possess these qualities can effectively drive lasting impact and deliver unparalleled value to organizations over those who don’t. As industry layoffs continue and the available developer talent pool grows, organizations that can find talent with these skills will make leaps and bounds over competitors who remain narrow in their search criteria.

Here are three must-have skills for top software developers.

1. Curiosity

Tapping into a developer’s innate curiosity about the world can help push them to explore and challenge the status quo. Some of the best developers are those who question the how and why of current solutions, eventually revealing a process that could be fixed or could spur a new product idea. Without the eagerness and drive of a curious developer, teams can easily fall short of driving change around processes and innovations, giving way to competitors willing to challenge and shake up tried and true methods.

[ Also read 6 goals that should be top of mind for CIOs. ]

Inquisitive developers don’t hesitate to apply a solutions-oriented mindset for unforeseen roadblocks. When a developer feels empowered to explore and analyze different aspects of an issue, it inspires other team members to contribute and collaborate toward a solution. Innovation is spurred by curiosity, and with it, your team will be in a better place, making it critical to building a team with naturally curious aptitudes.

2. Creativity

Creativity is not just for the arts. Naturally, creative developers can think about solutions and ideas in a non-linear way, breaking free of old habits or traditional ways of thinking. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Survey, creativity will become one of the top in-demand skills by 2025 – and developer talent is no different. The need for this skill has grown exponentially due to macroeconomic factors like the bleak economic outlook we’ve been experiencing for several months. Now is the time to find creative solutions to drive innovations, not giving way to limited resources that could stagger growth.

[ Related read: How to explain modern software development in plain terms ]

Top talent must have a “think outside the box” mentality that allows them to examine a solvable issue from different perspectives. Evaluating matters with fresh and differing ways of thinking deepens collaboration and sparks the creative process across teams.

3. Problem-solving

Developers frequently have the technical expertise and software tools at their disposal, yet they can only do so much. Problem-solving is quickly rising to become the most in-demand soft skill, with 42 percent of employers seeking talent with this ability. Talent acquisition teams must find individuals that can examine, analyze, and solve errors proactively, efficiently, and independently.

With the endless potential roadblocks on any project – from coding errors to pressing time constraints and even changes in strategy – being able to think on one’s feet and find an answer to keep the project on schedule is much needed. Top developer talent must be able to work through a problem and leverage their creativity to find a way to solve it that may be outside of traditional solutions. A lack of problem-solving skills can lead to a domino effect that will stall go-to-market plans, creating organizational-wide issues. By finding analytical developers, organizations allow team members to learn from top talent and hone their problem-solving abilities.

As leaders continue to feel pressure to find great developers, moving beyond traditional technical skills will be critical. Seeking soft skills like curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving in the hiring evaluation will allow organizations to expand the talent pool and welcome like-minded individuals who will lift teams to success. Expect the talent landscape to shift in 2023 and reawaken to the world of soft skills – tomorrow’s most impactful developers will help your organization solve issues, release better products, and push teams to greatness.

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Tony serves as Chief Technology Officer at Hyperscience, leading the Product, Design and Engineering teams. He has held senior leadership roles at Yahoo, Box, Zendesk, and Dropbox.